Excellent question, Anonymous. Way better than the usual suck-up question that pre-med students ask me all the time: “Dr. Cranquis, what class or experience helped you best to prepare for becoming a totally awesome and handsome doctor?”
It’s also a common question which we doctors ask ourselves, looking back at our eons of schooling. Yes, EONS. For a person to become a physician with a U.S. MD degree and full board licensure requires:
- 12 years K-12
- 4 years college bachelor’s degree
- 4 years medical school
- 1 year internship training
- anywhere from 2 to 10 years of residency (depending on how brutal of a specialty you choose)
- plus you can add on 1 to 6 years for accessories like: a Master’s in Public Health; repeating a year of med school for failing one class by >1/2 of a percentile point; applying too late for the MCAT (medical college admissions test) and therefore having to wait another year to get into med school; having to restart a year of residency time because your residency program loses its accreditation midway through the training year and you can’t get into another program right away; failing one of the board exams and having to wait 6 months to retake it, etc. etc. etc…)
It’s also a tricky question, since my answer will not necessarily be the same as another doctor’s answer. A lot depends on what field you specialize in, and how much punishment you enjoy taking.
- A radiologist has to take a physics test in order to be board-certified, and an ophthalmologist has to be a whiz at optics, but I haven’t used a single concept from Basic Physics (a basic-science prerequisite for medical school) in my medical profession EVER. (Wait, I take that back: sometimes as a patient is whining about pointless stuff, I will imagine them being sucked into a black hole).
- Doctors who decide to get a combination MD/Ph.D. degree
are way smarter and have fewer social skills than me usually use a lot of the “hard science” stuff (microbiology, biochemistry, organic chemistry) to complete their Ph.D. requirements; I haven’t used the Krebs cycle since I spewed it out on paper for a biochem final exam in 1st year of medical school (which I passed, but just barely, and lucky me: if I hadn’t passed that ONE class out of the 10+ classes which I had fought through in my 1st year of med school I would have had to retake the WHOLE year of classes again… logical, no?)
- The “clinical years” of medical school (3rd and 4th year, usually) are predominantly pre-scheduled for med students, a smorgasbord of rotations through all the major specialties (and some sub-specialties) of medical training, and the med students have to complete ALL of these rotations satisfactorily in order to graduate, even if they will never be entering the specialty that they underperform in. I knew from day 0 that I would never be a surgeon because most of the surgery attending physicians I ever met were arrogant jack-tards with the interpersonal skills of a mother grizzly bear; however, somehow, every year rational and well-intentioned medical students choose to enter a general surgery residency program. (To be fair, my exposure to surgical specialties did help prepare me to be a better General Practitioner, so that I can recognize a patient with appendicitis BEFORE they die.)
- Epidemiology and statistics: *sound of vomit splattering on my laptop screen* ‘Nuff said?
Thanks for being the first to submit a question, Anonymous!
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